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Make Babies, Support Them

Women struggle with almost everything under the sun. At home, work, in public, church, you name it, they struggle every single day. Heck, they even struggle in their own personal space; rest and sleep are just luxuries. Most times it feels like we have the whole world in our hands, up our arms up to our throats.

It is double the trouble if children are involved. But we are not complaining, still we soldier on; well most of us somehow still find the will and courage to go on. Not so with the rest. Last week, social media was abuzz with a story of a woman. This woman was allegedly caught shoplifting at some store in town. Nothing strange about that, theft happens every day; police even call it ‘theft common’. Shoplifters come in all shapes and forms too; male and female, old and young, poor and rich, educated and half baked, black and white; I can go on and on. Life doesn’t spare anyone. We see shoplifters every day, just yesterday I saw one (male) being bundled back into G West Choppies store. As they were forcefully pushing him back inside, I wondered whether the store employees were going to slap him senseless, marinate him with a mixture of water and flour or whether they were going to lock him up in the cold room until the store closed. Store keepers and their employees are notorious for that. They used to do that a lot when I was growing up, one time when I was at primary school we once waited for hours outside ‘Fairways’ supermarket for a schoolmate while he chilled in the cold room after stealing a packet of sweets. He had chosen the cold room over police. When he came out he was like a cold turkey, shivering and deathly quiet.

But this week’s alleged shoplifter caught everybody’s attention, not because a woman was involved but because apparently, the woman had on that day gone on a thieving expedition with her kid, whom she then ‘forgot’ when she fled. The story hasn’t been confirmed yet but even if this was just a figment of somebody’s imagination, it nonetheless brings to the fore the subject of single mothers and the struggles they go through every single day of their lives just to survive, their children included.

Before Kgosi Kgafela left the country, he had reportedly issued out a warning to all males in his territory, cautioning them against abandoning their offspring. Legend has it that, shortly before he left he had summoned all those who support their

kids through maintenance courts to the kgotla, then commanded them to man up.

I have been around for a while, I have never heard of a woman, any woman anywhere in the world running for their lives leaving their children behind. Most women I know will face off with a lion any day just to save their kids. A woman would starve just so her kids can eat whatever is left to eat. Yet this woman reportedly fled leaving her child behind.

It is easy to judge her, it is easy to condemn her for stealing (many did) but I am among those who understood her predicament, even if she were just imaginary. Because there are thousands more like her, women who are left holding babies after the men vanish into thin air. They sit there feeling helpless while their children starve. In this country it is almost now a culture. Men do that without any qualms, even married men, men who wake up in the same houses with the same kids. They are in the same house but they are not supportive of their families, their kids are invisible to them. A few years ago I was stunned to see a married couple at a local maintenance court. The woman confirmed to the stunned magistrate that they had woken up that morning from the same house, same bed. Madness.

Some people chose to label that woman a thief, I chose not to. Deep down in my heart I even wished she would have gotten away without getting caught. I abhor criminals, but not this type. Desperation makes people do crazy things. While many women take the prostituting (street or sophisticated type), she chose to rather steal. None is better than the other; they both make a woman lose dignity and respect. Meanwhile, men who abandon kids continue with their lives, business as usual. They even make more kids that they can never afford in their wildest dreams. Bringing up children is hard, extremely hard when a woman has no support.

There is need to revisit and tighten child support laws, instead of shaming drunkards by publicizing their names on the Daily News, how about we publish names of irresponsible fathers instead?

Tumy on Monday



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